Zuckerberg defends Facebook board member Peter Thiel’s ties to Trump

Mark Zuckerberg and Peter Thiel
Mark Zuckerberg, left, and
Peter Thiel.

Mark Zuckerberg defended Facebook board member and Trump adviser
Peter Thiel during a Q&A with students at North Carolina
A&T State University on Monday.

The Facebook CEO offered his defense of Thiel, a billionaire
venture capitalist and early Facebook investor, in response to a
question about how the company “maintains a free and safe
environment for the expression of all thoughts and feelings.”

He also said that calls to kick Thiel off Facebook’s board of
directors because of his ties to President Donald Trump were

“We have a board member who is an adviser to the Trump
administration, Peter Thiel,” Zuckerberg said during the hourlong
Q&A, which was live-streamed on his Facebook page. “And I
personally believe that if you want to have a company that is
committed to diversity, you need to be committed to all kinds of
diversity, including ideological diversity.

“I think the folks who are saying we shouldn’t have someone on
our board because they’re a Republican, I think that’s crazy,” he
continued. “I think you need to have all kinds of diversity if
you want to make progress together as a society.”

Zuckerberg’s visit to North Carolina is part of his goal to visit
every US state by the end of 2017. So far, he has visited several
southern states, including Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

Monday’s comments were not the first time Zuckerberg has defended
Thiel. In an
internal Facebook memo from October, Zuckerberg addressed
employees’ concerns about Thiel’s involvement with the Trump

“We can’t create a culture that says it cares about diversity and
then excludes almost half the country because they back a
political candidate,” Zuckerberg wrote at the time. “There are
many reasons a person might support Trump that do not involve
racism, sexism, xenophobia or accepting sexual assault. It may be
because they believe strongly in smaller government, a different
tax policy, health care system, religious issues, gun rights or
any other issue where he disagrees with Hillary.”

Thiel donated to Trump’s campaign and organized an early meeting
with top tech executives at Trump Tower in December,
which Zuckerberg did not attend. Zuckerberg and other
Facebook executives have spoken out against Trump’s policies,

including his first executive order on immigration.

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